“Dear God, I’m Sad” was created out of the need for a new way for faith leaders and others in ministry spaces to respond to people with mental illnesses as, historically, the Church has responded to mental illness with invalidation, dismissiveness, passivity, and hostility. This has created a deep separation between ministry spaces and those suffering from mental illness as well as developed a harmful and toxic theology around this topic. With this, I grew more and more passionate over the years around this intersection and applied to seminary school knowing that I wanted to study this intersection with the hopes of destigmatizing mental illness in faith spaces and promoting healthy practices by ministry leaders. Therefore, once I got through my first year of seminary, I started collecting and compiling years of writings, thoughts, and ideas and crafting them into something that I could continue to produce content through. And so, “Dear God, I’m Sad” was born.
The Mission: To craft a healthier and more holistic relationship between mental illness and Christianity through reflection, investigation, and exploration.
The Three Pillars of “Dear God, I’m Sad”
Reflection: Observing and reflecting on what and how the relationship is between mental illness and the church currently. In this pillar, we consider the following questions: What does this intersection look like? Is it healthy or toxic? Helpful or harmful? Do we like what we see? What do we want to change?
Investigation: Taking what we have observed and reflected on and trying to understand why it is the way it is through research and analysis. In this pillar, we consider the following questions: How did this relationship get to the state that it is now? How do we change or keep this relationship the way it is? What have we learned about this intersection that we had not known before?
Exploration: Taking what we’ve researched and then implementing what we’ve learned. Here, we explore the possibilities that our research has opened up to us. In this pillar, we consider the following questions: How do we implement what we’ve learned and create something new from it? What has this implementation opened up to us? Where are we able to go from here?
Sad and Loved
As the core mantra of “Dear God, I’m Sad,” this brand works through and from the belief that someone can be “Sad and Loved.”
We believe that a root cause for the harmful theology that has historically been implemented in ministry spaces when responding to mental illness is due to the idea that sadness (as a euphemism for mental illness) and love (as a euphemism for Divine Love and Acceptance) are mutually exclusive. Ministries that have responded to mental illness in a harmful way have worked through and from the belief of “sad BUT loved” or “loved BUT sad”: the idea that because you are so loved by God, you are not allowed to be sad. And the idea that because you suffer from a mental illness, you are no longer loved nor can you love and you are no longer worthy of the title “Child of God.”
However, “Dear God, I’m Sad” is founded on the theology that these two things can mutually exist: it’s “sad AND loved,” not “sad BUT loved.” In this way, your sadness (mental illness) does not take away from how loved you are or how loving you are and your sadness does not take away your identity as a child of God. Rather, your feelings are valid, you do not have to hide, you are not unfaithful because of your thoughts and feelings, and you are no less a child of God than anyone else is. This is what we believe and this ideology is what we are founded on.
There are a few different mediums through which “Dear God, I’m Sad” produces content:
Instagram: Read my reflections as a chemically imbalanced Christian. Both the lies that I lived and believed for so long about my worth as a person and as a Christian as well as the truths that I know now. Also, read other people’s stories who have endured harmful responses from ministry spaces to their mental illness or mental health challenges. These stories are meant to help the people who were harmed to heal by sharing their stories, connecting people to one another through shared experiences and words, and promoting awareness that there is much work to be done. If you have a story and you feel comfortable doing so, share it with me through the submission form (below)! You will stay 100% anonymous.
Podcast: Listen to the “Dear God, I’m Sad” Podcast to hear my conversations with experts and contemporary scholars in the field of mental illness, faith, and the intersection of the two to diminish the stigma of mental illness in faith spaces and promote healthy responses to mental illness by faith leaders.
YouTube: Watch highlights from the Podcast!